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The Embargo

An embargo is a restriction by another government on a country to prevent certain  resources from being imported or exported to the country.

In 1961, the US placed an embargo on Cuba because Castro had reformed the country's status of the US owned corporations. The US embargo didn't include medicine and foodstuffs, at that time. But then the US raised the prices of the medicine. Cuba could not afford to buy it from it's neighbor, so it went to Europe for these resources.  Even through the US offered to negotiate with Cuba, Castro increased his anti-US regime. 

The US embargo is causing much suffering to the citizens of Cuba. Medical supplies are scarce since the The Cuban Democracy Act of 1992. This act tightened the US trade embargo by prohibiting the sale of food and restraining the sale of medicines and medical equipment to Cuba. 

The ban on the sale of American foodstuff to Cuba has contributed to a large number Cuban Doctor treating a patientof malnutrition people, particularly among children and pregnant women whose babies were born with a low birth weight.

The embargo affects the access to good water and restricts the sale of water treatment chemicals. Many water-born diseases have risen causing a higher mortality rate from those diseases.

Cuban physicians only have access to 50 percent of the new medicine available in the world. Most new major medicines are developed by the United States.

The embargo on Cuba seems to be more for appeasing the U.S. electorate than it is for stopping atrocities or human rights abuses.

History of the Embargo on Cuba

In 1960  Castro nationalized all estates and farms owned by the US and those larger than a thousand acres from their Cuban owners and made it governmental property. 2.25 million acres once owned by US investors was turned in to large state owned farms. The total worth of seized US property was estimated at $2 billion dollars. The US broke the diplomatic relationship with Cuba in 1961 after Castro demanded that all but a handful of staff at the US embassy in Havana leave the country within 48 hours.

Once the US pulled out all their businesses including the night clubs and the Mafia.  Cuba lost it's vibrant night life. Until this point the US was 70% of Cuba's foreign investors. 

1961, the Kennedy administration put together a program designed to help with economic and social problems as well as strengthen the democratic institution. This provided $10 billion over the next nine years to aid with health care industries, housing agricultural, and military training.  

The US trade embargo was tightened by the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act. This made the embargo prohibit the sales of food and sharply restrict the sale of medicine and medical equipment."

Impact of the US embargo on Cuba.
Copyright 1998 by the Plough Publishing  House of
The Bruderhof Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved


In 1996 President Clinton signed The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act which is commonly known as the Helms Burton law, after been rejected several times in Congress. This bill was introduced by Congressmen Jesse Helms of North Carolina and Dan Burton of Indiana. It was signed after two US citizens (Cuban expatriates) died after two unarmed aircrafts were shot down by Cuban fighter jets, apparently over Cuban air space. The U.S. claimed that the planes were shot down over international waters. Cuban sources claimed that the planes had been dropping propaganda leaflets over Havana and had been warned to stay out of Cuban airspace on numerous ocassions.

According to Global Exchange, "President Clinton lent his support to the bill to avoid offending Cuban American voters in Florida and New Jersey, two states with large numbers of electoral college votes." (see: A closer look at Helms Burton by Global Exchange).

Under the Helms Burton law U.S. citizens would be allowed to file lawsuits in U.S. courts against international companies believed to be using, for profit, property confiscated by Castro's government in the early years of the  revolution. This law applies to U.S. companies as well as to foreign companies operating in their own countries. Some 5,900 properties and more than 100 international firms could be affected by the law.

This law has been severely criticized by people in other countries. Canada alluded to the hypocrisy of the law, when John Godfrey and Pete Miliken, members of parliament, introduced legislation that would allow Canadian people to sue U.S. citizens for compensation of property confiscated by the U.S. government in 1776 after the American revolution.

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